Agra’s industrial growth takes a hit from Covid

Industrial activity in Agra, Aligarh, Firozabad and Mathura has been affected as a result of the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has forced people to remain confined to their homes.

The sectors worst-hit are the iron foundries, tourism, leather shoe industry in Agra, glass ware and bangle manufacturing units in Firozabad, the lock industry in Aligarh and silver jewellery, saree dyeing and traditional dress making units in Mathura.

The seasonal labour from rural areas has stopped reaching the industrial clusters. “Those who can afford are waiting for happy times, others have enrolled for work under MANREGA. In many villages, the migrant workers have taken to farming,” a village development officer said.

Since there is no demand pressure right now, (the four months of the rainy season are considered a lean period in terms of productivity ), the situation is not yet alarming.

Industrialists are hopeful that after the rains, and some respite from Covid-19 by early October, there could be a turnaround.

“Though the government has initiated a whole range of economic reforms and announced so many incentives for startups, the general sentiment is low. It is not so easy to start an enterprise with loans and then to sustain the momentum in present times,” said an entrepreneur struggling with his unit in the industrial estate.

Agra’s hospitality industry that engaged more than a lakh people directly and indirectly see no light at the end of the tunnel, though a few hotels have ventured to open their properties.

“Until the Taj Mahal and other monuments reopen, the visitors will not come to Agra. Mobility right now is badly hit, though there are reports that in October, Agra would be connected by air to Bangaluru and other big cities,” said tourist guide Ved Gautam.

The Covid-19 situation continues to remain grim in the Agra region. While the Taj city reported 36 fresh cases, Mathura recorded 52, Firozabad 15 including six members of a hotelier’s family, Etah 20 and Mainpuri 21, in the last 24 hours.

Agra now has 346 active cases in 152 containment zones. The recovery rate, however, remains above 80 per cent.

Health department officials said the rapid testing campaign had been initiated in the rural areas. The daily sampling rate is also steadily going up.

The continued wet spell has brought some cheer back in rural areas which were alarmed at the scanty rainfall in July. In the last 24 hours, there have been several good spells of showers resulting in water logging in the low lying areas in the city.